190 posts categorized "Afternoon Visits" Feed

Two Quick Kidlitosphere Tidbits

Just a couple of quick updates from the Kidlitosphere:

First up, MotherReader and Lee Wind are once again hosting the Comment Challenge. Pam explains that January is "the perfect time of year to make a new resolution to connect more with your fellow bloggers. Since it is said that it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit, we’re going to run the Comment Challenge for the next three weeks — starting Thursday, January 6, and running through Wednesday, January 26, 2011. The goal is to comment on at least five book blogs a day. Keep track of your numbers, and report in on Wednesdays with Lee. We’ll tell each other how we’re doing and keep each other fired up. On Wednesday, January 26, I’ll post the final check-in post for the Comment Challenge. A prize package will be involved".

Also, Colleen Mondor just announced a new survey for past and future KidLitCon participants (survey developed by the multi-talented Sarah Stevenson). If you've ever attended KidLitCon, or you've thought about attending, or you might attend if only x,y,z change was made to the planning, please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with this year's organizers.

Things like the comment challenge and Kidlitcon are what make the Kidlitosphere a real community, instead of just a random collection of self-referential blogs. I hope that some of you will decide to participate in these events.

Wishing everyone a book-filled/comment-filled/fun-filled weekend!

Very Quick Saturday Afternoon Visits

I miss the days when I could spend a whole day every weekend preparing my "Sunday Visits" posts, for which I'd skim hundreds of blog posts, selecting and blurbing the ones that most caught my eye. These days, with a seven-month-old and a full-time job, I'm lucky if I have time to read my email, let alone 300 blogs. I do have hopes of getting back into sharing Kidlitosphere news regularly, but for today, I just have a couple of tidbits to share that have come my way.

First up, a relatively new blog that I've been reading is Read Aloud Dad. I like this blog so much that I've subscribed to receive the posts by email. It's written by a father who reads aloud to his preschool age twins. He recommends whether you should buy, borrow, or pass on the discussed books. I love (and am somewhat envious of) his review policy: "All reviewed books were bought by Read Aloud Dad, after detailed consideration. I took great care to find the best books and editions for my kids."

Handbook Today Read Aloud Dad has a post about five ways to find the best real-alouds. It's a nice, succinct post, complete with examples and recommended resources (the Read-Aloud Handbook and several other titles). A great starting point for anyone struggling with this issue, or anyone new to parenthood looking to get started with the read-aloud process. (And yes, he did recommend my blog, but I would have recommended the post anyway - clearly Read Aloud Dad and I are kindred spirits on this matter). 

Explosionist The second thing I'd like to share is a contest that Leila just announced at Bookshelves of Doom, part of a planned week-long, cross-blog celebration of Alt History and Steampunk novels. The whole concept stemmed from some offline discussion about how sad it is that certain wonderful YA novels in this genre aren't receiving more attention (I'm reading one right now: The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson). And how part of the reason for that is that some of these books have covers that aren't doing the job of drawing in the target audience. Here's the contest, straight from Leila:

"Create a book cover -- something that would attract you (or an audience that you think is missing out on the series) WHILE ALSO reflecting the contents and tone of the story -- for one of D.M. Cornish's books (starting with Monster Blood Tattoo), for either Jenny Davidson's The Explosionist or Invisible Things, or for one of Ysabeau Wilce's Flora Segunda books. (Just one! You don't have to do one of each! I mean, unless you want to, obvs.)"

SteampunkWeek So, if cover design is your thing, check out these books and get started (more details here). There are prizes! And if you're interested in alt history or steampunk novels, stayed tuned for what promises to be some smart discussion the week of December 13th. This, folks, is the kind of thing that the Kidlitosphere can do. Bring attention to books and genres that are receiving less attention than they deserve, all the while celebrating individual creativity. [Steampunk week graphic created by the talented Sarah Stevenson]

Finally, my congratulations to Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray on her new book contract! I'd recommend Colleen's recent post about this to any aspiring writers. Colleen shares her feelings on what it feels like to have a life-long dream fulfilled (and what it feels like to have deferred that dream for as long as she did). She also talks about the importance of the support of her blogging/reading/reviewing friends in making it this far. What I especially like about this post is that it's a reminder that online communities can be real communities, with friendships and support groups that matter.

I've missed spending time highlighting the accomplishments of my Kidlitosphere peeps as much as I once did (though parenthood is certainly worth it). Thanks for tuning in for these today!

Saturday Afternoon Visits: April 3

It's been another eventful week around the Kidlitosphere. Here are some links, for your perusal:

NPM_LOGO_2008_final April is National Poetry Month. There are a host of activities going on around the Kidlitosphere in celebration. Happily, Laura Evans of All Things Poetry has compiled a list (which I in turn copied from Finding Wonderland - you can find more details there):

Beautifulbloggeraward1 Lovely_award This week I was honored to receive not one but two blog awards from Dawn Little of Literacy Toolbox. Like my co-honoree Terry Doherty, I'm not one to pass along awards like this - I don't like picking sub-sets of my favorite blogs, according to anyone else's criteria. But I am delighted to be in such wonderful company with the other names on Dawn's list.

I was also happy to have my blog listed as a resource recently on the Education and Social Sciences Library (ESSL) Children's Literature Blog. Katelyn Edds chose a selection of blogs based on "how often the blogs were updated, their layout and content, and how often the blogs were cited by others as being authoritative." I'm in excellent company there, too, with blogs like Fuse #8, Readergirlz, and Guys Lit Wire, to name a few.

Speaking of Terry Doherty, her writer's prompt at Booklights this month is a fun one - Mad Libs. Oh, how I loved Mad Libs when I was in middle school. She talks about some different versions of the Mad Libs idea, shares some memories, and discusses why Mad Libs and related word games are an excellent literacy tool. Fun stuff! Ann also talks about writing prompts for kids in her monthly Booklights post. Great minds thinking alike, I guess.

Liz B responds at Tea Cozy to a recent New York Times article by Julie Just about problem parents in young adult literature. I agree 100% with Liz's conclusion: "Just as parents need to get out of the way for their teenagers to mature into adults, so should we adults who read and review young adult books get out of the way of the intended audience -- the teens. Yes, we can read and enjoy those books; but let's not ask for those books to be written to reflect our reality of adults and parents." But do read the whole post. Monica Edinger chimes in on the Times piece, too, though more briefly.

At the Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller continues her series on resources to help teachers discover books for kids. This time, she discusses Twitter (where you can find her at @DonalynBooks). She gives tons of great examples of the fun that is following the kidlit twitterverse.  

MACLogo The NCBLA blog reports on the start of the Exquisite Corpse Adventure Mystery Author Contest. The idea is for school classes to "Play Twenty Questions with other Exquisite Corpse Adventure readers around the country to help identify The Mystery Author! Every class that solves the mystery and emails in the correct guess will be entered into a drawing to win a collection of books valued at over $500 for their classroom or library, plus a phone conversation with The Mystery Author!"

Quick Hits:

  • I haven't mentioned it in a while, and thought that I would draw your attention to the latest installment of Sherry Early's Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Every week, Sherry asks contributors to link to their reviews from the week - resulting in links to dozens of book reviews.
  • Mitali Perkins shares an inspiring plea from 8th grader Anisha N. on behalf of her school library. 
  • Lenore's International Book Blogger Mentor program is up and running. She shares some of the featured bloggers at Presenting Lenore.
  • At the Tidy Books blog, Ian Newbold is wondering whether or not children's books should come with warnings (e.g. if a character dies).
  • Doret wraps up her fun 9 Authors - 12 Baseball Questions series at TheHappyNappyBookseller.
  • If you need more kidlitosphere news, check out the latest FuseNews from Betsy Bird at A Fuse #8 Production. There are also some interesting news links in Joanne Meier's Food for Thought post at Reading Rockets this week.
  • And finally, Kate Coombs has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Book Aunt.

Redsoxlogo I'll be away from the computer tomorrow, celebrating Easter as well as baseball's Opening Day (finally!). Wishing you all a Happy Easter or Passover, or anything else that you might celebrate, and a happy spring.

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).

Saturday Afternoon Visits: March 27

There continues to be lots going on around the Kidlitosphere. Here are a few quick highlights on this beautiful day:

Alma_logo_eng The winner of the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was announced this week (I first heard about it from Tasha Saecker at Kids Lit). Congratulations to Belgian illustrator and author Kitty Crowther, who won a prize of 5 million kronor ($620,00 US). I love that this award celebrates the creator of Pippi Longstocking, and the importance of children's literature. The size of the award is a strong statement about the value of children's literature and its creators.The ALMA website explains:

"Astrid Lindgren is one of Sweden’s most important authors. Her works have been translated into more than 90 languages. She renewed children's literature and combined artistic integrity with commitment to the rights of children and young people. Astrid Lindgren passed away in 2002 at the age of 94, but her stories will live forever. To honour her memory and to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature around the world, the Swedish government has founded an international prize in her name, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award." 

30P30D Gregory K has announced the lineup for his upcoming 30 Poets/30 Days celebration of National Poetry Month. It's quite a star-studded list. And I love the new logo, created by Greg's kidlitchat co-host, Bonnie Adamson.

Lots of people are raising a rallying cry for libraries this week. Dawn Morris has a heartfelt post about libraries at Moms Inspire Learning. And Jennifer R. Hubbard from writerjenn inspired a whole library-loving blog challenge, which has spread to dozens of blogs. The basic idea is that the participating bloggers promise to donate to libraries based on the number of comments that they receive. There are too many participants for me to highlight them all here, but I did want to mention that The Texas Sweethearts will be making a donation to the Reading Tub for their challenge. How great is that?

Trevor Cairney has a fun post today at Literacy, families and learning on choosing great educational toys for children. He breaks the post down by type of play, from timeless construction toys to toys that allow kids to create things. He concludes with a few principles that he follows when choosing toys (like "Do they stimulate creativity and learning?").

Based on the responses to her recent survey about blogging books for boys, librarian Ms. Yingling has started sharing some themed booklists, aimed at middle school age boys. This week, she shares a host of books about war, neatly categorized according to which war is covered. She says: "While not all of the books on this list have a lot of fighting, they have all been popular with my boys."

There seems to be a bout of spring-induced sports fever spreading in the Kidlitosphere:

  • Doret from TheHappyNappyBookseller is doing a fantastic Baseball Lineup series in which she asks nine authors of baseball stories for kids a series of 12 questions each (3 per day). Personally, I haven't been able to resist chiming in on the first two posts, to share my responses, too. They're great questions for baseball fans of all ages.
  • Colleen Mondor takes on sports books in the latest installation of her What a Girl Wants series at Chasing Ray. She asks her band of author friends: "What books can you think of about famous female athletes in history? Do we honor them on the same level as male athletes? And what about game playing girls in MG & YA novels? Can you think of some great ones and do familiar teen girl tropes (like mean girls and romance) play into those novels? In other words, is a book about boys playing ball crafted the same as one about girls playing ball? Is the sport enough when selling a book about girl athletes?" Thoughtful responses abound.
  • At The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia features a baseball poem about Forgiving Buckner. She speculates that baseball just might be "the true harbinger of spring." I can't disagree with that. Speaking of poems, this week's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Julie Larios of The Drift Record.

Other quick hits:

And that's all for this weekend. Happy reading, and happy spring. Only 8 more days until Red Sox Opening Day!

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).

Sunday Afternoon Visits: March 21

Happy Spring! Happy March Madness! A belated Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Here are a few links from around the Kidlitosphere, for those who are actually indoors on the computer this fine weekend:

First up, I was delighted to see that Jen Funk Weber profiled me this morning as her first Extreme Reader, a new series that she's doing at Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy. She shares my story about reading on a raft in a lake in New Hampshire as a kid. Jen is looking for other extreme reader stories, as well as extreme stitcher stories, if you have any to share. And have you seen her tutorial for stitching Readergirlz bookmarks? Anyone interested in both books and needlework should really be following Jen's blog.

Matilda Betsy Bird is up to #17 in the Top 100 Children's Novels poll at A Fuse #8 Production. You can also enter a challenge to predict the top 10 titles. I got an extra kick out of seeing Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory side by side at #18 and #19. The book-loving Matilda is one of my all-time favorite characters from children's literature. And I'll always have fond associations for Charlie, because I taught myself to type by copying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There's also a top 100 YA books poll going on at Persnickety Snark.

Speaking of Matilda, great fan of reading, Terry Doherty has started a list/widget at The Reading Tub with books about kids finding a love of reading. She would welcome your suggestions. Also, my congratulations to Terry for being the latest Featured Sweetheart at the Texas Sweethearts blog. There's a great interview!

Helaine Becker believes that kids enjoy reading. Inspired by a recent visit as guest author at a bookstore, she shares her thoughts on why kids sometimes get a reputation for being non-readers. I think she makes some good points, especially: "Kids don't like to read books that are "good for them" or jammed down their throats." 

Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling is shifting the focus of her blog a bit to focus more on finding books for boys. She's reformatted her blog, added a list of other blogs that suggest books for boys, and declared Guy Fridays. It's always interesting to me how people shift the focus of their blogs over time, as they discover areas that they are particularly passionate about.

Sara Zarr, on the other hand, wants to know if blogging is dead. She notes: "I don’t have time to read and comment on blogs the way I used to, and that seems to have led to fewer comments on mine, or folks do their commenting on Twitter and Facebook where my blog feeds—or commenting has been replaced with sharing, liking, and reTweeting." The post is a bit slanted (understandably) towards author blogs, but the discussion has implications for us all. I think it depends on whether you're blogging FOR the sense of community, or to share particular things that lend themselves more to the longer format of the blog (vs. Twitter or Facebook).

Lee Wind (co-founder of the Kidlitosphere Comment Challenge) has a new blog about The Zen of Blogging. He says: "This is my new on-line home for sharing weekly inspiration and how-to tips about blogging with you." 

Booklights Speaking of the Comment Challenge founders, Pam Coughlan has a great post this week at Booklights about Thrifty Reading, with suggestions for acquiring books during tough economic times (and no, shoplifting is NOT among her suggestions). See also Susan Stephenson's suggestions at The Book Chook for finding free reading material online. Also at Booklights, Susan Kusel suggests checking out holiday-themed books from the library EARLY.

Quick hits:

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).

Monday Afternoon Visits: March 15: Kidlitosphere News and Views

It's been a while since I had time to do a Kidlitosphere news roundup. I don't have a ton of time this afternoon, but I wanted to at least share a few things.

Booklights Terry and I were both pretty caught up in the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour last week, and so we have no children's literacy round-up for you all this week. I did do a post at Booklights today highlighting some of the links from each day of Share a Story that I thought would be of particular interest to parents. I'm also happy to report here that I won a giveaway - a set of four books from Sleeping Bear Press will be donated to the Santa Clara City Library (where I'm on the Foundation Board). This came about because I was a finalist in the RIF Multicultural Books giveaway. Many thanks to everyone who participated in Share a Story 2010!

Speaking of Booklights, Susan Kusel was kind enough to share some board book suggestions for me at Booklights last week. I've added many of them to my wish list for the baby.

Betsy Bird is up to number 21 in the Fuse #8 Top 100 Children's Books poll. She's going to share out the top 20 books one by one, so we all have a while to wait to see who the winner is. But I think it's safe to say that they'll all be wonderful books from here on out.

Mitali Perkins has a lovely post profiling 5 outstanding literacy warriors who are on Twitter. All five are organizations that I'm already following and retweeting on a regular basis, but I'm thrilled to see Mitali spreading the word and drawing more people's attention to these excellent programs. Mitali also has a slightly longer list of literacy champions that you can follow - I just double-checked, and found a few new people to follow. Mitali also shared a useful list of a dozen YA novels with Asian guy protagonists last week.

The SLJ Battle of the (Kids) Books started this week. You can read Liz B's thoughts on Round One, Match one at Tea Cozy, or view the full schedule here. SLJBoB is "a competition between 16 of the very best books for young people published in 2009, judged by some of the biggest names in children's books."

Shannon Hale has had a couple of interesting posts recently about the shortage of female characters in movies these days (especially animated movies), and what, if anything, concerned parties can do about this. She says: "what changes things is money. Even more specifically: the Opening Weekend. That's all that really matters. If women and girls flood movie theaters the opening weekend in support of movies that are led by or even have a realistic ratio of female characters, those accountants will notice and things will change."

Speaking of female protagonists, Doret has put together a "list of titles with strong and smart female protagonists" at TheHappyNappyBookseller. As she notes, the list is by no means complete, but it's an excellent place for anyone to start looking for strong female characters in books.

Meanwhile, David Elzey is still working on helping people to build better boy books at Fomograms, writing last week about nonlinearity in books for boys.

Quick hits:

Hope you found some links of interest!

Sunday Afternoon Visits: February 28: Kidlitosphere News and Views

I've been spending some time weeding through my ridiculously large to be read pile this weekend, after a relatively hectic work-week, so I haven't had much time for reading blogs. But I managed to do a bit of catch-up today. Here are some links that I thought people might be interested in.

Cybils2009-150px This year, for the first time, you can purchase stickers to place on your Cybils finalist and winning titles. All of the information, and samples of the stickers, is available at the Cybils blog.

Speaking of book-related contests, School Library Journal's annual Battle of the Kids' Books starts tomorrow. This contest pits book against book, until a field of 16 is narrowed down to one by an illustrious panel of judges. Betsy Bird has the details at A Fuse #8 Production. You can also follow the action on Twitter at @SLJsBoB or at the Battle of the Kids' Books blog.

At The Reading Tub, Terry Doherty has an interview with Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy. Terry says: "We *know* a lot about Elizabeth Burns’ book, TV and movie interests from A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, but she doesn’t talk much about her job as the Youth Services Consultant at the New Jersey State Library Talking Books and Braille Center. In fact, she makes it clear on the blog that what she says there is her opinion and not her employer’s. Last fall, after reading several articles about Braille literacy, I asked Liz if we could do an interview."

Speaking of Tea Cozy, Liz has sparked a discussion about the difference between "lit blogs" and "book blogs". All of the discussion is in the comments, so do go beyond the main post if you're interested in this. Personally, right at the moment, I don't have the energy for any clique-ish behavior or finger-pointing. But I'm glad that Liz is sorting things out. [See also Liz's thoughts on the new CommonSense Media ratings at Barnes & Noble's website.]

Colleen Mondor has the 12th edition of her What a Girl Wants series at Chasing Ray, with musings and book recommendations from authors about "Bad Girls" in literature. She says: "This month the panel discusses just what good and bad have to do with sex and the teenage girl, why we persist in labeling girls so much more harshly than boys and books that help readers navigate these ever present and always turbulent teen waters."

Amy has an interesting post at Literacy Launchpad about watching movies made from books, and why it's important to use them as an addition to, rather than a substitute for, reading the book.

Percy_Jackson_poster And speaking of movies made from books, check out the new Percy Jackson Reads! poster from the ALA store. There are also bookmarks available. I think this poster would be a great classroom addition - let's by all means jump on the coattails of the popularity of the book and the movie and use them to encourage reading. I'm sure that Rick Riordan agrees.

David Elzey continues his great series about building better boy books. Part 7 is about keeping things short. He says: "There are readers, many of them boys, who will pick up that book and judge it by its girth, by its font size, by the amount of white on the page. As a former bookseller, if I had a dollar for every boy I ever witnessed fan a book’s pages as a method for deciding whether or not to read it, I’d have enough money today to buy a small publishing house."

Happy-accident-31-300x296 Greg Pincus is offering a free consultation from his blog, The Happy Accident. He says: "At conferences recently, besides doing my main presentations, I’ve also been giving individual, shorter social media consultations (see below for the details of how they work). Because they’ve proven to be so popular, I’ve decided to start offering that same service here through The Happy Accident. To kick this new offering off  (and to help celebrate my fourth anniversary of blogging over at GottaBook), I’m going to give one of these consultations out for freeeeeee." Comment by midnight tonight with a recommended blog or blogs to enter. You'll already find a great list of recommended blogs in the comments.

Today is the last day of The Brown Bookshelf's 28 Days Later celebration of African American authors and illustrators, featuring Charles R. Smith, Jr. Of course, one of the great things about blogs is that it's easy to go back and look over the posts from the entire month, if you've missed them.  

Quick hits:

And now it's back to my towering stacks of books. Eventually, my creating order from the books will translate into more reviews for you. In the meantime, Terry will have this week's Literacy and Reading News round-Up tomorrow at The Reading Tub.

Thursday Afternoon Visits: February 18: Kidlitosphere News and Views

Kidlitosphere_button So I've been struggling through a bout of laryngitis this week. It's made me a bit cranky (or perhaps general malaise has made me cranky - whichever). But the nice thing about the whole online world is that I can still interact with people, without needing to talk. And so, here are a few tidbits from the Kidlitosphere and twitterverse.

First up, the Kidlitosphere's own Betsy Bird was profiled in Forbes today (online anyway)! Author Dirk Smillie calls her "the most powerful blogger in kids' books". And really, who could dispute that? I think she uses her power for good, though, don't you? I especially liked this part, a quote from Dan Blank: "She channels her oddness into this niche blog, which then extends beyond its niche. Why was she born to do this? Who knows?" But do read the whole article. It's great stuff!

Speaking of Betsy, she's at the halfway point in revealing the results of the top 100 children's books poll, with today's reveal of titles 51 to 55. The list of titles is a wonderful resource in and of itself. And what Betsy's doing with the posts, profiling each book, including cover images and quotes from contributors - it's truly a labor of love. She's made me want to go and read, or re-read, every single one of these titles. See also an interesting analysis of titles 100-71 by Eric Carpenter at What We Read and What We Think. Eric looks at things like distribution of votes, distribution of titles by decade, etc. His post is well worth a look.

Mockingjay While I love many of the titles on Betsy's list, the genre that catches my attention most reliably is dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, especially when published for young adults. There's been plenty of activity within my pet genre this week:

Cybils2009-150px My fellow Cybils panelist, Sam from Parenthetical.net, has posted mini-reviews of all of the non-winning finalists in our category, middle grade fantasy and science fiction. I'm not sure if or when I'll get to this myself, so I refer you to Sam's comments. They line up pretty well with what I would say, anyway. I'll also note that Joni Sensel's The Farwalker's Quest is a post-apocalyptic title, and thus had my automatic attention. Melissa also has a Farwalker's Quest review at One Librarian's Book Reviews.

Speaking of the Cybils, special thanks to Rocco Staino for a lovely writeup about the Cybils winners at School Library Journal.  

I-can-read-meme The February I Can Read Carnival (an idea launched by Terry Doherty, now in its second moth) is running right now at Anastasia Suen's 5 Great Books blog. Fittingly enough, Anastasia was the category organizer for the 2009 Easy Reader and Short Chapter Book committee of the Cybils. She has lots of excellent links for new readers.

Quick hits:

  • David Elzey continues his series on the aspects of books that appeal to boy readers. He talks about violence/conflict, action, and emotion in parts 3 through 5.  
  • At the Spectacle, KA Holt expresses her concern about lexile ratings being used to steer kids away from books that they want to read.
  • Travis has a very fun post at 100 Scope Notes predicting what books will be like in 3001. He is ridiculously creative, isn't he?
  • The Texas Sweethearts have named their newest Featured Sweetheart: Mitali Perkins. Great choice, wouldn't you say? You can read the interview here.
  • Liz B writes again, at Tea Cozy, about why it's wrong to sell advance reading copies, or place them in library collections. If she keeps saying it often enough, perhaps the message will get across. There's an extensive discussion going on in the comments.

And that's all for today. Hope you all found some news of interest. I'll have the roundup of literacy and reading news up on Monday.

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. Any Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: February 10: Celebrating My New Niece with Book-Related Links

For me today, the Kidlitosphere news pales in comparison to the real-world news that I'm an aunt! Although this is one of those times that I wish I didn't live 3000 miles away from my family, I'm still very happy for my brother and sister-in-law, and looking forward to meeting my new niece. And, of course, I'm looking forward to buying her lots of books.

Meanwhile, there has been a lot going on around the Kidlitosphere this past week. Here are some links for your perusal:

The biggest news is that Betsy Bird has started reporting the results of her Top 100 Children's Books Poll at A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy asked readers to share their list of top 100 children's books of all time. She's compiled the results, and is reporting the list in small chunks, complete with commentary and assorted covers for each book. These posts (see 100-91, 90-86, 85-81) are truly an amazing resource, filled with quotes and memories about beloved books, new and old. Even though we're only 20 titles in, I would venture to suggest that the completed list is going to make an excellent recommended reading list. In fact, I actually dreamed about reading these posts last night. Stay tuned to A Fuse #8 Production for the rest of the Top 100.

For anyone who might be snowed in this week, Joan S. at the First Book blog suggests: "Settling in to enjoy a GOOD BOOK doesn’t require electricity or a wireless connection. Satellite dishes may be covered with snow, wires may be down, but READING A BOOK just takes a quiet nook and a willingness to enjoy the moment."

I noticed two posts today about creative classroom activities dedicated to popular books. At Educating Alice, Monica Edinger shares a mural that her students created after reading When You Reach Me together as a class. And at Learn Me Sumthin', Tony's class is tracking Percy Jackson's adventures using Google Maps. Here's a snippet from Tony's post: "Some very unexpected and wonderful things started to happen. The classroom conversations about writing became stronger, because I think the kids really started to see the connection that fiction, even fantasy like The Lightning Thief, is more 'real' when the author can layer in events, details that are real. Also the importance of setting, which can get lost of 4th grade writers is now more apparent."

Speaking of classrooms, Everybody Wins! reports: "MrsP.com has created some beautiful literary-inspired valentines -- that you can download for free at www.MrsP.com. They are perfect for teachers or mentors to use in the classroom this week. They are created for readers of all-ages and perfect to give to the book lovers in your life." Here's the direct link. They are very cute! 

And in other Percy Jackson news, Amanda from A Patchwork of Books reports: "The Guardian has an awesome interview with author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) about his son's dyslexia and ADHD preventing him from enjoying reading. Well Mr. Percy Jackson's story helped fix that!". Of course, the Lightning Thief movie comes out on Friday, too, so we'll be hearing lots more about Percy in the coming weeks.

David Elzey is writing a series (based on work that he did as part of a graduate residency) on building better boy books. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Part 1 is introductory, while Part 2 is about grabbing the attention of boys by using humor. David says: "there are subtleties to some forms of humor that boys respond to above others that can be incorporated into fiction. Knowing these elements might help explain what makes many boys – both readers and characters – tick."

Charlotte's web At Booklights, Susan Kusel discusses reading Charlotte's Web aloud to young children (who might not cope well with Charlotte's death). Susan notes: "As a librarian, I frequently get asked what age the book is appropriate for. My answer is always that it depends on your child. Will they be able to handle it?" Commenters seem to agree.

Also at Booklights, Terry Doherty has launched a new monthly column called A Prompt Idea. She says: "Each month, I'll talk about writing and suggest ways to add writing to children's literacy diet. Even if your child isn't ready to put pen to paper, prompts can open the doors to building vocabulary, honing communication skills, and being creative. Varying the outlets for writing and communicating is as important as offering different types of reading materials."

Abby (the) Librarian and Kelly of Stacked are starting a new monthly roundup of posts about audiobooks. Abby says: "We want to encourage people to listen to audiobooks and to post about them. We want to provide a place for people to find out about great audiobooks."

Cybils2009-150px The Cybils winners will be announced this Sunday (Valentine's Day). In the meantime, the Cybils blog has been running a fun series about the inside scoop on the nominees in various categories. Here's Part I, Part II, and Part III. I continue to be wowed that Deputy Editor Sarah Stevenson manages to keep up her own blog, and keep coming up with creative content for the Cybils blog, too.

Quick hits:

And that's it for today. I'm feeling much better having the starred items in my reader cleaned up, and I'm off to watch the Duke/UNC game with a friend. Happy reading, all!

Saturday Afternoon Visits: January 30: Kidlitosphere News and Views

There's been lots going on around the Kidlitosphere this week. Here are some highlights:

Liz B has an interesting post at Tea Cozy about the ways that blogging shifts the way the blogger reads. I've certainly noticed this in my own reading. Much as I enjoy most of the books that I review, I find I need to mix in ever-increasing numbers of books that I read purely for my own satisfaction (with not thoughts of writing a review). Otherwise, reading, which has always been my solace, and necessary for my mental health, starts to feel like work.

BkBrownBear Did you hear about how the Texas Education Board accidentally banned popular children's author Bill Martin, Jr. (author of the much-beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?). It seems that the board confused Mr. Martin with a different Bill Martin, who wrote a book on Marxism. Elaine Magliaro has the details and links at Wild Rose Reader. Ridiculous! Almost as ridiculous as the school system in CA that banned the Merriam-Webster dictionary in certain classrooms. I can't even bring myself to comment on that one, but Leila has the details at Bookshelves of Doom.

Sadly, Brown Bear, Brown Bear is currently missing from Amazon's website (except for purchases from third-party sellers), because Amazon is in the midst of a battle of wills with publisher Macmillan, and has pulled all of Macmillan's titles. Here is the NY Times article about the situation. I learned about this from Charlotte's Library.

Farwalker Regular readers may be aware that dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories are one of my favorite genres of recreational reading. Joni Sensel (author of Cybils finalist The Farwalker's Quest) has an interesting post up at The Spectacle about pinning down the definition of a dystopia. I think she makes some good points - it's easy to use "dystopia" as shorthand for a wide range of stories (and I'm sure that I've done that), but something can certainly be post-apocalyptic or speculative without being dystopian. That's why the full title of my booklist in this area (which needs to be updated) is Futuristic, Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults. See also Tanita Davis' thoughts on, and recent list of, young adult science fiction.

However you want to classify them, I find dystopian and related novels fascinating. So does Lenore at Presenting Lenore. So much so that she'll be dedicating all of February to discussing them. She says: "I have lots of fun planned including reviews, interviews, guest posts and of course prizes! If you like speculative fiction, then Presenting Lenore is the place to be in February." I will surely be staying tuned.

Last week I mentioned Kelly's celebration of unsung young adult books at YAnnabe. She ended up having 73 bloggers participate. She also took the time to compile some statistics on the recommended titles, coming up with lists like the "top 10 unsung YA heroes". This whole thing is truly a labor of love of the genre. YA fans will find this post a wonderful resource. Now if only I had time to read all of the books...

Speaking of YA heroes, Justine Larbalestier shares her thoughts on Amazon's list of most influential young adult authors of the decade. Although she calls it an excellent list overall (and I agree), she suggests a couple of omissions, questions a couple of additions, and invites discussion.

As reported by Betsy Bird at FuseNews, the Cuffies have been announced. PW hosts these entertaining awards, based on input from booksellers from around the country. They include your typical "favorite picture book" etc., but also categories like "book you couldn't shut up about", "most overdone subject" and "happiest to see back in print" (Blueberries for Sal, of course).

28DaysLater2010 The Brown Bookshelf's 28 Days Later, 2010 kicks off Monday, February 1st. This annual celebration of African-American children's book authors and illustrators is not to be missed. Don Tate says: "my work here at the Brown Bookshelf, specifically the 28 Days Later campaign, always inspires me. Whenever I find myself getting down, when I start to feel that the cards are stacked against me — and believe me, they are — I look at all the faces on the posters from past and current campaigns, and I feel hopeful." 

The Sydney Taylor Award blog tour also starts Monday. You can find the full details at the Association of Jewish Libraries blog. The tour "will be celebrating and showcasing its 2010 gold and silver medalists and special Notable Book for All Ages." More than a dozen blogs will be participating.

Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling has been working hard at finding books for boys. In this post she shares several recommendations of funny books for boys. Then in this post she shares a bit of a rant about the need for more boy-friendly books for her library. There are some great comments on that post, with suggestions. Then, apparently deciding to take action, she launched a "super-secret evil plan" to put "girl books" into the hands of boys. It was apparently quite a success, too. All I can say is, if you care about getting middle school kids interested in books, you really should be reading Ms. Yingling's blog.

The latest controversial topic making waves in the Kidlitosphere concerns book piracy. Cheryl Rainfield linked to an article at The Millions in which an anonymous e-Book pirater discussed his motivations. Then Laurie Halse Anderson took on the topic, and sparked a host of responses and rationalizations from people. Her first post is excellent, and her second, in which she debunks the arguments of the book thieves, is even better. Sara Zarr responded, putting it simply: "Piracy is stealing, and stealing is wrong". Mary Pearson added her thoughts, discussing how reading pirated books is also bad for the reader. These are all must-read posts for anyone who cares about books and reading. Personally, my views on this are influenced in part by the fact that I own a software company, and sell a product, the result of much hard work, that could be copied electronically. I think that anyone who tried to steal my product would be just as guilty of outright theft as the people who steal the work of hard-working authors like Cheryl, Laurie, Sara, and Mary. Like Sara said: stealing is wrong.

If you're looking for new blogs to follow, and an incidental example about strengthening social networks, check out Gregory K's 1000th post at Gotta Book. Speaking to his blog's audience, Greg says: "A lot of you know each other, but it's always seemed unfair that so many of you DON'T know each other. So I want to turn over the comments of this post to introductions. I want you all to say hello, link to your blog or website, and, if you want, give a one sentence "blurb" about you/your blog/whatever." There are currently 83 comments and counting. Me, I wish Greg 1000 more posts, and thousands more followers.

Quick hits:

And now, my reader is clear, and I'm off to dinner. Hope you find some material of interest for your weekend web reading.

Little, Brown Replaces Benedict Covers and Dearborn Schools Replace Librarians

Two quick tidbits from School Library Journal's Extra Helping today. First, from Rocco Staino (and quoting a number of bloggers):

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is changing the covers on Trenton Lee Stewart’s "Mysterious Benedict Society" series, following complaints that the character Sticky Washington, described as having light brown skin, appears on all three covers as white.

via www.schoollibraryjournal.com

And, from Lauren Barack:

Students in Dearborn, MI, may be seeing their parents in the school library more often than the librarian. It’s a scenario set to happen in Dearborn Public Schools as budget cuts take effect next month and 13 media specialists lose their positions (one through retirement), leaving just eight librarians to run the 32 K–12 school libraries, says David Mustonen, communications coordinator for Dearborn Public Schools.

via www.schoollibraryjournal.com

I'm all for parents volunteering in school libraries. But replacing qualified librarians with parent volunteers is a disservice to students. At least replacing the Mysterious Benedict Society covers is a positive thing... 

Friday Afternoon Visits: January 22: Kidlitosphere News and Views

The Kidlitosphere has been largely dominated by news about the ALA awards and a couple of book cover controversies this week. Still, I did manage to find a few other links, too. Hope that you find some tidbits of interest.

After a brief absence, the monthly Carnival of Children's Literature is back. Anastasia Suen has taken over organizing the carnivals from founder Melissa Wiley. The Carnival is a monthly celebration of children's literature. A different person hosts each month. Participants submit either their best post from the current month, or (in some cases) posts according to a particular theme. For January, Jenny Schwartzberg will be hosting the carnival. The theme is Winter Wonderland (fitting, since the carnival will be held at Jenny's Wonderland of Books). Submissions are due by midnight January 29th, at the Carnival submission page. I'll let you know when the Carnival is available for viewing.

51Q+0MmPZfL._SL500_AA240_ I mentioned briefly in my last roundup that a new tempest had blown up around the Kidlitosphere. I wasn't even sure how to write about it, because I was running across posts everywhere. Fortunately, MotherReader is on the job. She has a summary of the most important links regarding the issue with the cover of Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, another Bloomsbury title featuring a protagonist of color, and a whitewashed cover.

In related news, and I'm blatantly lifting this blurb from Betsy Bird's latest FuseNews, "Little, Brown & Co? You got some 'splaining to do. Both 100 Scope Notes and bookshelves of doom bring up a bit of whitewashing that I was assured at the time was a one time printing mischief on the first cover . . . unaware that it happened again on the second. And the third. You know what I'm talking about, Mysterious Benedict Society."

Yalsanew2 YALSA has come up with their Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Best Books for Young Adult lists. These lists are amazing resources (the links go to more detailed posts at Kids Lit). Speaking of recommendations for young adult literature, at YAnnabe, Kelly is collecting recommendations from different blogs for unsung young adult novels. She has links to 47 lists from across the blogosphere so far. She invites people to post their own lists through Sunday. And at Interactive Reader, Postergirl Jackie Parker shares her 2009 Top 10 (or so) for Readergirlz.

Also via Kids Lit, the 2010 Edgar Nominees were awarded this week by the Mystery Writers of America (for kids, young adults, and adults). There were quite a few strong nominations for children and young adults this year - I agree with Betsy Bird's assessment that 2009 was an excellent year for mysteries.

At The Reading Tub, Terry Doherty has a heart-felt plea for authors and publishers to make sure that early readers are actually welcoming to new readers. She illustrates visually how hard it is to read text that's too small, and doesn't have illustrations, and suggests that "Although the content of easy readers spans myriad subjects and might even have chapters, there are definite differences between an easy reader and a book for independent readers, even newly minted ones. The two easiest criteria to remember are big margins and illustrations."

Cybils2009-150px At the Cybils website, a lovely printable flyer about the contest, complete with the 2009 finalists, is now available. Also, thanks to Danielle Dreger-Babbitt for writing a lovely introduction to the Cybils for the Seattle Book Examiner.

Quick hits:

  • I was sad to hear about the sudden death of author Robert Parker this week. Though better known for his adult mysteries (most notably the extensive and entertaining Spenser series), Parker did publish a few books for kids, too. Omnivoracious has the details.
  • Kim has a nice post about life balance, using a grocery shopping analogy, at Escape Adulthood.
  • Poetry Friday is at Liz in Ink today, a delightful meal-by-meal collection of blog visits. This week's Nonfiction Monday roundup was at Wendie's Wanderings.
  • Marge Loch-Wouters has a mini-rant at Tiny Tips for Library Fun that resonated with me. She laments the "pervasive "You're-Not-the-Boss-of-Me" attitude" that she sees in library patrons, by which people are completely unwilling to accept any limitations on their behavior. I think, sadly, that this behavior is everywhere these days.
  • For more Kidlitosphere news, check out Abby (the) Librarian's latest Around the Interwebs: Shiny awards edition.

Wishing you all a relaxing and book-filled weekend!